Learning to read aligns visual analytical skills with grapheme-phoneme mapping: Evidence from illiterates

Thomas Lachmann, Gunjan Khera, Narayanan Srinivasan, Cees van Leeuwen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Learning to read puts evolutionary established speech and visual object recognition functions to novel use. As we previously showed, this leads to particular rearrangements and differentiations in these functions, for instance the habitual preference for holistic perceptual organization in visual object recognition and its suppression in perceiving letters. We performed the experiment in which the differentiation between holistic non-letter processing and analytic letter processing in literates was originally shown (van Leeuwen and Lachmann, 2004) with illiterate adults. The original differentiation is absent in illiterates; they uniformly showed analytic perception for both letters and non-letters. The result implies that analytic visual perception is not a secondary development resulting from learning to read but, rather, a primary mode of perceptual organization on a par with holistic perception.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberArticle 8
JournalFrontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience
Issue numberJUN
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Dyslexia
  • Flanker
  • Illiterate
  • Letter recognition
  • Literacy
  • Object recognition
  • Reading acquisition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology


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